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Coronavirus

Thai government bans mask exports to battle coronavirus

Authorities seize control of distribution and fix prices amid gouging complaints

A woman walks out of a drugstore in Bangkok after failing to find face masks in stock. Thai consumers have been stockpiling masks at home, leading to an acute shortage.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Thailand's government has banned face mask makers in the country from exporting without permission, as it tries to meet surging demand driven by the new coronavirus outbreak.

The cabinet on Tuesday approved the ban, after which the Commerce Ministry took full control of retail prices, production volume, and the export and import of masks. The extraordinary step is aimed at shielding Thai consumers from hoarding, price spikes and shortages.

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